Design intervention: Observations 2023 online seminar series explores moments in design history

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Design intervention: Observations 2023 online seminar series explores moments in design history
Unknown, Books and Things (Chaekgeori), c.19th century. Ten-panel folding screen: ink and coloured pigments on paper, wood, paper, silk, 176.0 × 318.0 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased NGV Foundation, 2019.



MELBOURNE.- Observations, the NGV-curated online seminar series, returns in 2023 with an in-depth examination of the influence and impact of design throughout history. From seventeenth century decorative arts to Mid-Century Modernism, Observations: Moments in Design History offers audiences the chance to discover the movements, materials and manufacturers that shaped global design across the centuries.

Through examples from the NGV's leading collection of historical decorative arts and design, historians, writers and curators from around the world delve into a variety of topics including Art Nouveau, the Bauhaus, Japanese and Korean craft and design, as well as the place of design in Indian life and culture. The seminars stream monthly from August to October.

Observations: Moments in Design History begins with the seminar Design in the Early Modern Period, which focuses on decorative arts of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, offering audiences the chance to learn about the emerging technologies, markets and makers of this period, including porcelain manufacturers Wedgwood and Sèvres. The seminar will also explore the development of trade between Asia and Europe. Presenters include Carolyn Sargentson, author and former curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London; Misun Rheem, South Korea- based curator and lecturer at Busan National University; and Dr Meha Priyadarshini, Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

In September, Traditional crafts and the rise of Modernism will showcase the importance of traditional design and craftsmanship through daily life in India, Shaker communities in America, and the Mingei movement in Japan.

Introducing audiences to design in the twentieth century, the seminar explores the rise of Modernism through key movements such as Art Nouveau; the work of iconic designer Frank Lloyd Wright; as well as the impact of design on women’s suffrage. Speakers include Hanai Hisaho, Curator at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Sarah Margolis-Pineo, Intrepid Associate at John Keith Russell Antiques, specialising in Shaker design; and Dr ZoëThomas, Associate Professor in Modern History at the University of Birmingham.

Twentieth Century Design, streaming in October, introduces audiences to the designers and design styles that reimagined modernism and exported radical new ideas across the world. These include the designers Isamu Noguchi, George Nakashima, Charlotte Perriand, and Ray and Charles Eames, as well as the Bauhaus, Milan Memphis and Surrealist movements. Audiences will hear from British design critic and author Alice Rawsthorn OBE; Catharine Rossi, Professor of Architecture at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury, UK; and Christian Witt-Doerring, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Neue Galerie New York.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘From the early modern era to the mid-twentieth century, this year’s Observations series explores the history of design through iconic works of design and decorative arts from the NGV Collection. The NGV Collection is one of the great cultural assets of Victoria and its rich and diverse holdings allow us to narrate a great many stories, including some of the key moments, movements and makers in design history. By investigating design history, this series will demonstrate why design matters and how the past has shaped the design practices of today.’

Observations: Moments in Design History will be followed by a publication of edited transcripts of the original presentations, with contributions from all international guest speakers, available via the NGV design store and online. Participants can pre-purchase a copy of the book when booking into the seminar series.

Observations: Moments in Design History
between August and October










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